By Kevin Armbrust
“Recall the first time you heard a missionary speak,” suggests Christian Boehlke, director of Missionary Services for the LCMS.
“Many say they were amazed by the tales of spreading the Gospel in far-off places,” Boehlke observes. “I continue to be amazed by the stories our missionaries bring home.
“The missionaries visiting your congregations want to share their stories with the Church — both those who have heard their stories before and those who hear for the first time. Please welcome them. Provide opportunities as you are able for them to share what God is doing throughout the world.”
Beginning this summer and continuing over the next two years, every LCMS missionary family will return to the United States with these stories.
Their time in the U.S. provides the missionaries with needed rest and recharging. They spend time with family and friends. However, much of their time at home is occupied with expanding and strengthening their support network.
There are more than 100 LCMS career missionaries serving around the world.
To rest, recharge, reconnect
LCMS missionaries — many of whom were called and placed as a result of a 2013 LCMS convention resolution — are now scheduled to return home for a time of rest, recharging and reconnecting with those who have supported them.
The presence of missionary families back home provides an occasion for LCMS congrega tions to renew their relationships with missionaries they support. The missionaries will be seeking opportunities to visit congregations to share the work they have been doing in the field.
The missionaries bring the work that God is doing throughout the world to local parishes through their presentations during Bible class or other congregational gatherings, or preaching. This affords members of the congregation opportunities to join in support of the mission of the Church.
Encouraging missionary support
“We have an obligation to continually give congregations opportunities to walk together in mission,” said Mark Hofman, executive director of LCMS Mission Advancement. “How they choose to respond is always at the congregation’s discretion.”
Hofman added that financial support may come from a congregation’s annual budget, from mission-focused groups within a congregation or from “focused support” from families and individuals within the congregation.
“Moved by the Holy Spirit and prayer, direct congregational involvement is key to ensuring missionaries can continue bringing the Gospel to people across the globe,” he said.
“When you support a [Synod] missionary … not only are you supporting the work of one individual, [but] you are laying the groundwork for more pastors, deaconesses and other church leaders to plant churches and to share the Gospel for generations to come in that country and beyond,” says the Rev. Joel Fritsche, an LCMS career missionary in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Congregations not yet directly supporting a Synod missionary can take advantage of these home visits to connect with one. This kind of direct link provides benefits for both the congregation — as its members are tied to God’s Kingdom work throughout the world, and for the missionary, who is supported and encouraged by the congregation and its members.
Mission support includes financial giving, and also prayer. Each Synod congregation can remember mission work in its regular prayer life. Congregations are always encouraged to pray for mission work and the Church’s missionaries, both national and international. Missionary visits allow congregations, families and individuals to pray for a specific missionary family and the work in which they are engaged.
“As many of these missionaries are now returning home after two-years of serving in the field to reconnect with these generous donors,” said the Rev. John Fale, executive director of the LCMS Office of International Mission, “it is vital for their service that this support continue year after year.
“Each person who gives makes it possible for people who have lived in spiritual darkness to hear of Jesus, who gives light and life through His Gospel. For our mission work to continue robustly, this truly requires a Synodwide base of support.”
Dr. Kevin Armbrust (email@example.com) is manager of Editorial Services with LCMS Communications.
Posted May 25, 2017